They also did it
In recent history, there have been several self-determination referendums around the world. Although each case is unique and has its own characteristics, there are several cases that share similarities with the Catalan referendum:
Scottish independence referendum, 18 September 2014
In 2011, after becoming the first party in the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP) secured a mandate for an independence referendum. On 15 October 2012, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed the Edinburgh Agreement, which ensures that Scotland will be able to hold a referendum that meets fairness, transparency and propriety standards.
Question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No.’
Result: 44.7% Yes and 55.3% No (84.6% voter turnout).
Montenegro’s independence referendum, 21 May 2006
The result of the referendum meant the end of the former Union of Serbia and Montenegro, created in 2003 after the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The process of secession was regulated by the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro and supervised by the European Union. Montenegro had lost its independence nearly 90 years earlier when it was absorbed into the newly formed Yugoslavia, at the end of World War I.
Question: ‘Do you want the Republic of Montenegro to be an independent State with a full international and legal personality? Yes/No’
Result: 55.5% Yes and 44.5% No (86.49% voter turnout).
Quebec’s second independence referendum, 30 October 1995
Fifteen years after a first referendum, in which staying united to Canada was the most voted option, Quebec’s government organised a second referendum in 1995. This time, the question was simpler and more direct. The number of voters was extremely high and there was little difference between the number of voters who opted for remaining within Canada and the ones who preferred independence.
Question: ‘Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995? Yes/No’
Result: 49.44% Yes and 50.56% No (94.5% voter turnout)
Sloveninan independence referendum, 23 December 1990
During the 1980s, Slovenia pressured for greater political freedom and pluralism in the Yugoslav federation, to which it had been united since the end of World War II. Before that, during the war, it had been occupied by Germany and Italy. In 1989, the Slovene Parliament confirmed the right of the country to secede from the federation. In 1990, after holding its first multi-party elections, Slovenians voted in a referendum on independence.
Question: ‘Should the Republic of Slovenia become an independent and sovereign state? Yes/No’
Result: 94.69% Yes and 5.2% No, and blank votes (93.5% voter turnout)
Quebec’s first independence referendum, 20 May 1980
The referendum was called by the Parti Québécois (PQ) Government, which strongly favoured secession from Canada.
Question: ‘The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, levy its taxes and establish relations abroad — in other words, sovereignty — and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; any change in political status resulting from these negotiations will only be implemented with popular approval through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada? Yes/No’
Result: 40.44% Yes and 59.56% No and blank votes (85.61% voter turnout)
Jurassic question / Jurafrage (Switzerland), 22/23 June 1974
Cantons are Switzerland’s member states; all together they make up the Swiss Confederacy. The Republic and Canton of the Jura decided to secede from the Canton of Berne after a cantonal referendum in 1974, followed by another local referendum in 1975 and a ratifying country-wide referendum in 1978. There are currently 26 member states in Switzerland.
Question: ‘Do you want to constitute a new canton?’
Result: 50.7% Yes, 46.9% No and 2.4% blank votes (90% voter turnout)
Maltese independence referendum, 2 – 4 May 1964
This Mediterranean archipelago has a long history of being under colonial control over centuries. In 1814 it became a colony of the British Empire. After intense negotiations with the United Kingdom, Malta achieved its independence on 21 September 1964. Months earlier, between 2 and 4 May 1964, a referendum on a new constitution was held – effectively an independence referendum.
Question: ‘Do you approve of the constitution proposed by the Government of Malta, endorsed by the Legislative Assembly, and published in the Malta Gazette? Yes/No’
Result: 54.5% Yes and 45.5% No (79.7% voter turnout)
Icelandic independence referendum, 20 – 23 May 1944
After being part of Denmark for centuries, in 1918 Iceland signed a treaty that assured full self-government under the Danish crown. This meant that Denmark only retained control over foreign affairs. This treaty was valid until 1943, when Icelanders voted to cut all ties with Denmark and became a republic.
Question: Voters were asked whether the Union with Denmark should be abolished and whether to adopt a new republican constitution.
Result: 99.5% Yes and 0.5% No (98.4% voter turnout)
Norwegian union dissolution referendum, 13 August 1905
On 27 May 1905, the Norwegian parliament, known as Storting, proclaimed independence from Sweden, to which it had been united since 1814. Norwegian people endorsed the decision in a plebiscite. Women did not have the right to vote.
Question: Voters were asked whether they approved ‘the already completed dissolution of the union’.
Result: 99.95% Yes and 0.05% No (85.4% voter turnout)